Talk about stories! It turns out, my mom would have appreciated the #MeToo movement.

This is my mother at her desk circa 1970. She was the office manager for KFC. Not a KFC, the Kentucky Fried Chicken headquarters. As she put it, she was in charge of “all the girls”. She supervised the typists, file clerks, receptionists, stenographers, and keypunch operators, whom she pitied. It wasn’t that the keypunch girls were mistreated, she just felt sorry for them because she thought keypunch was “boring”.

The ladies she felt had the most challenging assignments were the stenographers. In addition to the technical skill involved in taking dictation at a high rate of speed, there were the “politics” involved. The senior executives had personal secretaries, usually hired, or at least screened by Mom. The junior executives pulled from the steno pool as needed. Certain executives preferred working with certain girls, which was fine with her if the girls agreed. Certain executives, none of the girls wanted to work with. Reasons varied, from executives who mumbled to others who were “rude”. These situations required intervention by Mom. The mumblers usually just meant they hadn’t found the right fit from the steno pool, as accents and styles varied and familiarity usually solved the problem. However, if several ladies complained about rude behavior, a personal conversation was in order. Knowing my mother, it likely included the phase “Don’t $#!+ where you eat”. If the situation still wasn’t resolved, my mother was occasionally available to take dictation. And if not, unfortunately, “I’m sorry, no one is available to assist you at the requested time,” ever.

My personal favorite story from her time there involved the hiring of a new executive secretary for the new CEO. Executive secretaries are a special breed. They need to be extremely skilled in all the usual administrative functions, plus able to choreograph the functioning of the C suite, juggle schedules, screen phone calls, organize travel, and never forget a birthday or anniversary. Oh and the new CEO specifically requested someone “presentable”. Presentable can of course, be interpreted in multiple ways. The CEO’s wife made clear her preference for performance over presentation. In the end, the four candidates for the position all had at least 20 years experience, all were married, 3 were former beauty contestants, and all were very “presentable”.